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Book News: Jane Goodall Blames Carelessness For Lifted Passages

Jane Goodall holds a baby <em>Cebus capucinus</em> monkey during a 2013 visit to a primate rescue center in Chile.
Hector Retamal
AFP/Getty Images
Jane Goodall holds a baby Cebus capucinus monkey during a 2013 visit to a primate rescue center in Chile.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Primatologist Jane Goodall blames slapdash note taking and a busy work schedule for the text lifted from other sources in her book Seeds of Hope, co-written with Gail Hudson. Talking at length about the issue for the first time since The Washington Post reported last year that the book contained a number of passages taken from other sources, Goodall tells Mosaic: "I am not methodical enough, I guess. In some cases, you look at my notebooks, there's no way you can tell whether this is from talking to somebody or whether it was something I read on the Internet." She adds that, "I don't think anybody who knows me would accuse me of deliberate plagiarism."
  • Ted Hughes' estate has unexpectedly stopped cooperating with biographer Jonathan Bate, who has been working for years on a biography of the poet and former husband of Sylvia Plath. Bate will no longer be allowed in private archives, and won't able to quote at length from Hughes' papers, which he tells The Guardian is "an essential aspect of serious scholarship." He suggests that Hughes' family may be worried about exposing details from the poet's private life: "I have discovered some things that surprised even [Hughes's widow] Carol and Olwyn, Ted's sister, so there may be more surprises to come." The Hughes estate denied it is trying to protect family secrets.
  • Paul Holdengraber interviews the psychotherapist and author Adam Phillips, who writes about the problems with trying to fully understand other people: "When people say, 'I'm the kind of person who,' my heart always sinks. These are formulas, we've all got about 10 formulas about who we are, what we like, the kind of people we like, all that stuff. The disparity between these phrases and how one experiences oneself minute by minute is ludicrous. It's like the caption under a painting. You think, Well, yeah, I can see it's called that. But you need to look at the picture."
  • Just in time for April 1, Penguin announces the launch of a new imprint, Penguin Now!, which will supposedly modernize classic books by changing full stops to exclamation marks in order to "break free of some of the more outmoded grammatical constraints of the past and publish something that today's readers can actually relate to." So, the first lines of Albert Camus' The Stranger would become: "Mother died today! Or yesterday, I don't know!" The press release adds, "Existing exclamation points in the text are now be supplemented with two extra ones, for added emphasis, and while question marks are for now to remain unchanged, [editor] Dappersonne claims that, should Penguin Now! prove a success, the team are looking into replacing the traditional ? with a more contemporary :/" (Happy April Fool's Day!!)
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.

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